Violence toward Douglass

Aug. 9, 1847

Garrison writes to Helen, from Harrisburg, where he and Douglass spoke at the Court House.  “I first addressed the meeting, and was listened to, not only without molestation, but with marked attention and respect … as Douglass rose to speak, the spirit of rowdyism began to show itself outside of the building, around the door and windows.  It was the first time that a ‘nigger’ had attempted to address the people in Harrisburg in public, and it was regarded by the mob as an act of unparalleled audacity.  They knew nothing at all of Douglass, except that he was a nigger.  They came equipped with rotten eggs and brickbats, fire-crackers and other missiles, and made use of them somewhat freely — breaking panes of glass, and soiling the clothes of some who were struck by the eggs. …I was enabled to obtain a silent hearing for a few moments, when I told the meeting that if this was a specimen of Harrisburg decorum and love of liberty, instead of wasting our breath upon the place, we should turn our back upon it, shaking off the dust of our feet — &c. &c    1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI